Opportunity to Learn Through Helping: County’s CTEP program visits Second Harvest Food Bank

Watsonville – There is much to learn among the mammoth stacks of donated food, the gargantuan warehouses and the vast refrigerators at Second Harvest Food Bank.

There, hundreds of employees and volunteers every day perform countless tasks, from administrative duties to shipping and receiving to sorting food into the boxes and bags that go to hungry families.

students placing vegetables in boxesBecause the food bank’s activities are connected intimately to agriculture—arguably the lifeblood of Santa Cruz County—and to the simple but age-old act of feeding people, a trip there was perfect for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Career Technical Education Partnership (CTEP).

More than 50 CTEP culinary and agriculture students from more than a dozen schools across the county spent two hours Friday morning sorting and packaging food.

CTEP coordinator Julie Edwards said the visit at once gave them a front-seat view of the food bank’s inner workings, and an idea of the jobs available to them there.

Leslie Pintor, 17, said she hopes to come back with her fellow students at least once a month.

“It was pretty cool,” she said. “It was a new experience.”

“I like that we were doing something productive and giving back to the community,” said Adrianna Vega, 17.

The work-based service learning experience came thanks to a donation from The Catholic Community of San Agustin in Scotts Valley.

Costanoa High School senior Jay Vega said he enjoyed the work, and described it as an “interesting learning experience.”

“I would definitely do this again,” he said. “It was different… it felt good to be able to do something that we knew would help others in need.”